Canon's spate of printer announcements back in January created a lot of media attention with emphasis on the high-end S900 and S9000 models. However as not everyone can afford these we've taken a look at the cheaper Canon S750 to see how it compares.
The main features of the S750 are:
- Four colour ink system
- Borderless printing
- Colour matching with ICM v2.0 or ColorSync 2.5
- Up to 25 years lightfastness
- Parallel and USB interface
- Approximately 36 dB
- One year on-site warranty
- 5kg weight, 430x294x177mm dimensions
- Available online for around 185
Reading through these features, the S750 doesn't seem all that different to the S900. The differences, however, are more than subtle, as the S900 uses a different six colour ink cartridge system that has a major effect on the image quality. Coupled with the different cartridges is a different print head, which we'll cover in more detail later. The printers resolution reads the same as the S900 on the specifications, but we need to judge how it compares in reality.
Design, interfaces and installation
The fact the S750 has a parallel interface as well as USB may be good news to some readers who are still using old computers. Having a USB connection on your printer helps it achieve the best speed possible. We used the USB connection throughout this test. Canon quote high speed capabilities with full colour A4 pages printed at 2.5ppm. We found when printing with the highest quality setting, this time was substantially extended.
Installation, as is the case with most USB printers these days, is painless. When the drivers are sorted out you can have a look around the options available, which are reproduced below in this animated image. Incidentally, those of you who have read our Canon S900 review will notice how similar the drivers are on both printers. Despite being a lower-specified model in terms of hardware Canon have luckily not cut out any of the software features.
A sign that the S750 has had some cost-cutting measures applied to it is the flimsy plastic paper receiver. This is curved but doesn't seem to do any damage by bending the paper.
The S750 uses a smaller print head to the S900 illustrated on the left. According to Canon specifications, both the print heads are capable of outputting ink drops of 4pl in size.
A unique feature of the S750 is the Advanced Precision Colour Distribution Technology (APCDT), which Canon say is 'the latest innovation in advanced inkjet printer design, delivering faster colour print speeds at extremely high quality levels'. This incidentally, is the reason the S750 has two sets of nozzles, and the S900 only one. Reading the technology description on the Canon web-site here this all sounds very good. However the S750 is still inferior to the S900 in terms of image quality, despite the S900 not using APCDT.
Canon have some of the fastest printers around and the S750 is even faster than the S900 in some of our tests. The full A4 photo speed is particularly impressive as this is where most cheaper printers stumble. Comparing the S750 to the S900 it printed an A4 page of text nine seconds faster, and an A4 page of colour graphics 23 seconds faster. The full A4 photo was 16 seconds faster on the S900. These small variations make little difference to most people's normal use, but it's impressive to note that a supposedly lower-end printer can outperform its superior in some areas. It also helps show that the APCDT does offer some real performance improvements.
|Full page text
||A4 High resolution
||A4 Photo Paper Pro
While maintaining these quite impressive speeds the noise produced remains at a reasonable level. It is by no means quiet, but lacks the loud clunks and whirs so common on many lower-end printers.
Although perhaps a little unfair given the S750's price point, we were expecting great things. Having been impressed by the recently reviewed Canon S900 and S9000 I imagined the S750 was going to be equally impressive, relative to its price.
This was not the case, initially prints suffered from severe banding. Following a head clean and re-alignment the banding was reduced making it very hard to spot. By this I mean the average person looking at a photo from an artistic point of view rather than a technical one wouldn't notice it. It's a shame this crucial process of head alignment isn't done automatically as it isn't a simple procedure for novice users.
An important factor in evaluating the S750's image quality was ink drying time. Generally the prints need longer than average to reach their optimal quality even when using Canon's Photo Paper Pro. Our very dark density print looked bad straight out of the printer with some odd streaks visible in the darkest areas, but these disappeared to produce an acceptable print.
Despite these negative points the S750 still manages a decent performance. Although not in the same league as the S900, it is not far off and that is high praise considering the difference in price. Colour performance is very good with prints appearing well saturated and true to the original files.
Looking closely, ink droplets are a lot easier to spot than on the S900, but for normal viewing purposes this is not always important. On a 6x4in portrait photo I had to look from a height of 30cm to discern any difference in ink droplet size between the two printers, so for the majority of cases the quality is sufficient. For the ability to reproduce fine levels of detail sharply the S750 can almost match the S900 and you'd have to look extremely closely to be able to spot the difference.
Where the S750 loses out to the S900 is in reproducing the full dynamic range of a photo. We found detail being lost in the darker end of the spectrum and at the opposite end droplets become too visible with some odd grey speckling. Throughout the middle range the S750 is fine, and for many prints the quality will be close to a S900.
Producing good results on this challenging print the S750 only loses out to the S900 by noticeable ink droplets on the clock face and inaccuracy representing the very darkest areas of the print.
||Although not producing as vibrant a print as the S900 the S750 still compares very well with the original file. Ink droplets are particularly visible on the expanse of blue but not enough to detract from the photo itself.
||The fine details of this photo are reproduced well and the slight lack of dynamic range is not as noticeable as the droplets. Putting the A4 prints from both the S900 and S750 printers on a wall side by side, most people will be pleased with the results of the S750.
To help illustrate how close the S750 comes to the S900 in reproducing fine details the two images above are scanned samples of 5mm squares in one of our test prints. As you can see the S900 does manage to resolve the fine lines better than the S750, but it's hard to spot the difference at a reasonable viewing distance.
In comparing the S750 to the superior S900 we have shown that although not at the same level in image quality it provides value for money at a saving of around 130. It offers prints that will often look very similar to its more expensive sibling at normal viewing distances.
For people who want the best possible quality the S900 and high-end printers from other manufacturers will still be the best solution, but for sheer value for money Canon have done a good job with the S750.